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Five Marketing Mistakes You Can Avoid by Using Cross-Channel Attribution

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Cross-channel attribution is about attributing the credit for marketing results to where credit is due.

According to Forrester Research, about 87% of marketers and 85% of agencies misattribute credit: They either attribute all credit to the last touch point or have no way of attributing the credit in a meaningful manner.

Marketers and their agencies make five common mistakes that can be avoided by deploying cross-channel attribution techniques.

1. Nonexistent or Nonusable Data

Odds are that you are not collecting marketing data, or you have lots of data that you are not using to make the right marketing decisions.


Most data collected is in aggregate form, which is not useful for finding insights. Moreover, it is often spread over different entities such as agencies, publishers, media planners, and business units, and it is fragmented across several Excel and PowerPoint files, Access databases, and relational systems.

An integrated data warehouse for all marketing data and results—which is part of any cross-channel attribution strategy—is crucial for being able to act on the data you have.

2. Silos and Nonstandardized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Unfortunately, most marketers and their agencies are forced into the long-held practice of tracking marketing performance in silos—that is, each channel is measured using different metrics.

Online search has KPIs such as clicks, conversions, and cost per action, whereas television has KPIs such as impressions and gross rating points. Branding and direct response are measured in silos, too. Even smart marketers who employ best-of-breed agencies often track their agencies' performance in silos.

There is no standard measurement practice that goes across channels, agencies, and marketing initiatives, but an integrated and holistic approach to measurement and optimization is critical for your marketing organization because it can serve as a surrogate for a standard set of yardsticks with which to measure program success against KPIs and other goals.

3. Lack of Synergy and Lack of Timing

We all know that different marketing channels influence one another, yet many marketers struggle putting that anecdotal evidence to work.

Too often, the same advertiser will run several campaigns at once, with no tie among them to help boost overall success, or the advertiser will not align timing among those programs.

That is unfortunate, because if one channel is good in giving a lift to another, another may be good at receiving the lift and producing conversions.

Say, for example, a TV commercial is giving a lift to a Google AdWords campaign. To leverage the effect, TV and search campaigns need to be executed in harmony. That means you need to have the keywords that have affinity with the TV ad, the right budgets, and trafficking with a time lag to take the full advantage of the lift that TV provides.

The synergy between media teams and an agreed-upon and well-timed action strategy leads to substantial return on investment (ROI).

4. Going With Your Gut

Admitting that your decisions are based on gut feelings is difficult, especially when there is a lot of data processing and report generation underway. But, often, decision-making can be subjective and based on gut feelings at the executive and execution levels. That's because the Excel reports and PowerPoint decks many of us regularly consume are at high levels, don't offer insights, and are not segmented—and, therefore, are not usable.

An objective and fact-based decision-support system, such as those provided by some of the attribution solutions now available, should be helping your organization make the right decisions.

5. Relying on tradition

Most marketers and agencies are comfortable with their traditional ways of decision-making.

Sometimes good ideas take time to get implemented. Sometimes, though, tradition limits the speed of execution. At the end of the day, the marketer who has the better process and technology to make better decisions and who acts quickly wins over others.

* * *

Marketers and their agencies can easily evade the common mistakes addressed in this article by implementing cross-channel attribution strategies and attribution-based optimization technologies.

Bringing together advertising touch-point data, response data, and customer data into an integrated data-warehousing platform—where it is cleaned and stitched together across marketing channels, distribution channels, business units, products, and agencies—can provide a set of standardized KPIs to track performance across all marketing initiatives.

The result is that you're able to avoid mistakes while delivering improved results and ultimately do your job better, faster, and with greater value to your organization.


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Anto Chittilappilly is the president, founder, and chief technology officer of Visual IQ Inc. (www.visualiq.com), a marketing business-intelligence company that provides the end-to-end insight needed to execute successful campaigns, deliver maximum ROI, and measure multicampaign attribution.

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